Bicameral legislature- A congress made up of two houses. In the U. S.
it is the senate and the House of Representatives. Constitutional convention agreed to a bicameral legislation. Congressional Sessions- Each term of congress starts on January 3 of odd numbered years and lasts for two years. Sessions- a meeting that takes place twice in congress and usually lasts for most of the year.
Congress remains in session until its members vote to adjourn. After adjournment the president may call congress back into meeting as a special session. Membership of the House- a total of 435 members make up the house of representatives. Seats are allotted to each state and the number of seats that state is allowed to have is based on its population. Every state is entitled to at least one seat no matter how small the population is.
To qualify to be a member of the house you must be at least 25 years of age, a resident of the US for 7 years and a legal resident of the state you represent. (Usually live in the district they represent. ) Terms of the house are for two years. Representation and reapportionment- the census bureau takes a national census, or population count, every 10 years to assign representation according to population. The population of each state determines the new number of representatives, which is called reapportionment. Congressional Redistricting- The process of setting up new district lines after reapportionment has been completed.
Gerrymandering- means that the political party controlling the state government draws a districts boundaries to gain an advantage in elections. The term gerrymandering can be traced to Elbridge Gerry, a governor of Massachusetts. Membership of the Senate- The senate is composed of two senators from each state, thus each state is represented equally. Today’s senators includes 100 members?2 from each of the 50 states. To qualify as a senator you must at least 30 years old, a citizen of the US for 9 years, and a legal resident of the State they represent.
All voters of each state elect senators at-large, or statewide. Unlike a representative of the house a senator serves his or her term for six years, inducting a new senator every two years. A congressman’s pay must follow the 27 amendment, which says that the salary voted on by congress will not be in effect till the next session. Exclusion- the right of congress not to seat a member inducted by a majority vote. Censure- a formal disapproval of a member’s actions.
Characteristics- most of the members of congress are lawyers. The others usually in business, banking, and education. Incumbents- Those already in office that win reelection. Political action committees- Provide substantial campaign funds, usually supporting incumbents.
Incumbents are successful in reelection because it is easier to raise funds, can represent districts that have been gerrymandered in their party’s favor, incumbents are better known to voters, and they use their position and office staff to help solve problems for voters. Constituents- the people in a district represented. Caucus- a closed meeting. Majority Leaders- The speakers top assistant.
Their job is to help plan the party’s legislative program, steer important bills through the house, and make sure the chairpersons of the many committees finish work on bills important to the party. Whips are assistant floor leaders. The whips job is to watch how majority-party-members intend to vote on bills, to persuade them to vote as their party wishes, and to see that party members are present to vote. Bills- A proposed law. Not actually a law until congress votes and passes it, then the president must sign it.
To introduce a bill members drop their idea into a box called a Hopper. After the bill is introduced the speaker of the house sends it to the appropriate committee for study, discussion, and review. Bills are then put onto the house calendars. Calendars- list bills that are up for consideration. 5 different calendars. Union calendar (bills for consideration, house calendar(public bills), private calendar(bills that deal with individual people or places, consent calendar(bills with a unanimous consent to debate out of regular order) , and discharge calendar(Petitions to discharge a bill from committee).
Rules committee serves as the traffic officer in the house, helping to direct the flow of major legislation. Quorum- the minimum number of members who must be present to permit a legislative body to take official action. House is led by the Speaker of the house. The senate is composed of 100 members, 2 from every state. To qualify as a senator you must be at least 35 years of age, a resident of the US for 9 years, and a legal resident of the state they represent.
In the event that the vice president is unavailable to oversee the senate a pro tempore is elected by the members of the senate, usually the most senior member. A standing committee is a permanent committee in congress that oversees bills that deal with certain kinds of issues. A sub-committee is a group within a standing committee that specialized in a subcategory of it’s standing committees responsibility. A Joint committee is a committee comprised of the house and senate that usually acts as a study group and report its findings back to the house and senate.
Select committees study one specific issue and report their findings to the house or senate. Conference committees are temporary committees set up when the house and senate have passed different versions of the same bill. The seniority system gave the member of the majority party with the longest uninterrupted service on a particular committee the leadership of that committee. Congress has two types of staffs, a personal staff and a committee staff. The Personal Staff members work directly for individual senators and representatives. Committee staff members work for the many house and senate committees.
Administrative assistant- is a very important legislative aide. The AA runs the lawmakers office, supervises the lawmaker’s schedule, and gives advice on political matters. Legislative assistant- are a second type of personal staff member. An LA makes certain that the lawmaker is well informed about the many bills with which she or he must deal.
An LA does research, drafts bills, studies bills currently in congress, and writes speeches and articles for the lawmaker. Some personal staff members are called caseworkers because they handle the many requests for help from people in a lawmaker’s state or congressional district. Support Agencies- Library of congress, congressional budget office, general accounting office, and government printing office. The legislative powers of congress is stated in article I, section 8. Expressed powers are also known as Enumerated powers.
Implied powers allow congress to expand its role to meet the needs of a growing nation, creating the elastic clause. The elastic clause is another name for the necessary and proper clause, #18, which implies that congress has powers beyond those expressed in the first 17 clauses. The Writ of Habeas corpus is a court order to release a person accused of a crime to court to determine whether he or she has been legally detained. Powers of congress- money powers, commerce powers, military and foreign policy powers, and other legislative powers. Appropriations bills are proposed laws to authorize spending money. Interstate commerce- is commerce among the states.
Copyright- the exclusive right to publish and sell a literary, musical, or artistic work for a specified period of time. A patent is the exclusive right of an inventor to manufacture, use, and sell his or her invention for a specific period, currently 17 years, and can be renewed. Impeachment- A formal accusation of misconduct in office against a public official. Only a charge of wrong doing, not a determination of guilt.